How to Avoid Burnout — 6 Ways to Manage Stress And Improve Your Well-Being
Longing for the weekend on a Monday? Loving your job but hating the dozens of emails and conference calls you get each day? Feeling overwhelmed by your kids’ constant requests? You may have burnout — a complex phenomenon plaguing the most ambitious, dedicated caregivers and workers.
Luckily, online therapy can help you cope with stress caused by work or caregiving before it escalates into full-blown burnout. But you’re looking for practical tips to get started right away.
Here’s how you can save yourself from dreading each day, according to therapists who’ve helped people just like you.
Know the Signs of Burnout
What is burnout? Is it simply the daily stresses of life and work? It’s much more than that. Burnout is a more complex emotional, physical and mental state caused by excessive and prolonged stress.
When you recognize the signs of burnout, you can avoid it.
Some red flags to look out for are:
- Negative attitude towards work
- Low energy
- Little interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Dreading the start of each day
- Feeling empty and emotionally drained
- Pulling away from those around you
- Physical symptoms like headaches and backaches
These burnout symptoms are easily written off as exhaustion. If you’re lucky to catch these signs, there’s plenty you can do to avoid burning out completely.
Rediscover Your Purpose
Does your career have a deeper purpose beyond your paycheck? Does taking care of your kids carry special meaning to you? How could you change what you do to make a more significant impact?
Burnout is a sign that something in your life is not serving its intended purpose. It might also mean that you’re neglecting something truly important to you. So, take some time to think deeply and rediscover what really matters to you.
Besides just earning a paycheck, you might find purpose in help finding innovative solutions, helping others, or growing a brand. These are just examples — your purpose can be anything, provided it makes you happy.
Perform an Analysis
Do you know what’s expected of you and what isn’t? Have you figured out what you need to do daily, weekly, and what can wait a month? If you haven’t, you might be headed to work overload. You’ll feel like you’re on a treadmill and end up demoralized because you never seem to catch up.
Perform an analysis of your work or home duties, so you can clarify what you must do. Rome wasn’t built in a day — don’t try to get everything done at once. It can lead to frustration and work burnout, especially when you fail to meet your goals.
Instead, prioritize urgent tasks and leave some for later. Be sure that you aren’t making unreasonable demands of yourself or creating conflicting priorities.
Turn to Other People
You can get help, and you should. It’s okay to lean on others for support when you feel overwhelmed at the workplace or home.
In the workplace, delegating duties is a great idea. Not only does it lessen your workload, but it also allows others to learn something new. Some tasks are critical in your role, and others aren’t as essential, so you can delegate them.
At home, you can have your spouse or immediate family take over at least once a week. Every day when your spouse comes home from work, they can give you a hand. Knowing those around you can prevent emotional burnout that’s common for caregivers.
If you need to drop your kids off at a friend’s house while you pamper yourself, don’t feel guilty for it. Remember, it takes a village to raise a child. Your rest is important, so look to your “village” to avoid burnout as a mom.
Exercise is a great stress reliever. Whether it’s as simple as a daily walk or as engaging as a gym session, it releases feel-good hormones that can boost your mood.
One study found that exercising in nature helps prevent occupational burnout. People who exercised outdoors experienced greater revitalization feelings, increased energy, and reduced tension, confusion, anger, and depression.
Another study found that both cardiovascular and resistance exercises improved health and reduced stress. In addition, exercise frequency and duration was an important factor — the more consistently participants exercised, the better their mental health.
Never let time be an excuse why you don’t move more. You can walk to work, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or do a quick 15-minute home workout every morning. For stay-at-home parents, putting your kid in the stroller and going for a walk is a great way to get moving.
Eating healthy food to avoid burnout involves more than a balanced diet. There are specific foods that can nourish your body in times of stress and burnout
These fatty acids impact chemicals in the brain that help with mood, learning, and memory. They’re found in foods such as:
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Kidney beans
- Fish such as salmon, mackerel, and cod
Your gut health directly affects your brain health. An unhealthy stress level may lead to digestive issues, so upping your intake of fruits and vegetables can boost your well-being.
Furthermore, dark leafy greens are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The B vitamins are beneficial for boosting your mood, fighting fatigue, and improving sleep.
H3: Whole Grains
Whole grains are a source of energy for your brain. The complex carbohydrates found in these grains are broken down slowly to prevent sugar crashes that can affect your mood. Some whole grains to eat are:
- Brown rice
- Wild rice
- Whole grain pasta
Avoid Mood Affecting Foods
Mood affecting foods trick your body and create hormonal chaos that worsens your stress levels and affects your productivity. These foods include:
- Processed foods with artificial additives
For example, if you’re feeling on edge, caffeine can stimulate your nervous system and make you feel worse. Instead, go for a hydrating beverage such as water or an energizing fresh fruit.
Naps are not just for children. When you catch yourself reaching for your second cup of coffee, take some time off and sleep for 20 minutes. A short nap can be refreshing and energizing. Plus, it’s one of the cheapest breaks you can have.
Unplugging can also mean logging off your computer and spending time doing other things you enjoy. Learn a craft, participate in a hobby, or hang out with friends. Make sure that you fully unplug — checking your emails on a brunch date isn’t it.
If you really want a break, how about a vacation? Several days at your preferred destination, enjoying the sights, and not having your phone ring off the hook can be a great stress reliever.
While at it, work on creating healthy sleep habits. Getting enough sleep is a predictor for a better mood and more productivity. Have a set bedtime routine and avoid distractions before you go to sleep. Make your bed comfortable, and look into what you should eat for a good night’s sleep.
The Bottom Line
Burnout doesn’t happen overnight. It takes persistent, unresolved stress and ignoring the symptoms of burnout for the situation to worsen. The good news is there’s plenty you can do to avoid this state. From delegating tasks to taking self-care seriously, recovering from burnout is a slow but sure process.
You can also get the professional guidance of online therapists on the Calmerry platform and start your path to burnout prevention or recovery.
Passionate Writer, Blogger and Amazon Affiliate Expert since 2014.